Public relations, while not the first career path that’s advertised in a job fair, is an exciting and lucrative field to enter. As can be deduced, it involves handling the public image of an organization or individual. Therefore, as long as you’re comfortable with communications, you may be able to make a living in it. If you’re interested in this possibility but unsure of where to start, here are five tips for starting a career in public relations.
1. Gain knowledge
The first task to complete in order to succeed in any field is gaining knowledge. Even if you’re a complete prodigy, you’ll need to know the basics of your intended career. This path means different things to everyone. While attending higher learning is the right step for many, you can find several alternatives to college as well. Discover what method works best for you and your path in life. The main topics to focus on are understanding trends in the media and effective communication.
2. Find a niche
It’s vital to decide what your niche is when it comes to PR. There are two very different ways to practice public relations. One is to work in a particular industry and be hired by a company. Another is to work with an agency and become familiar with several different industries. This depends on your interests. If there’s one brand of business that compels you immensely, you should probably pick the former path. However, if you find multiple topics interesting, consider an agency. Whatever you choose, be sure that it complies with your skill set. You don’t want to work in an agency if you have a one-track mind.
3. Get experience
Experience in any field is everything. No matter how much you know, your first attempt at PR is unlikely to be successful. You need to practice in person as often as possible. One lucrative way to do this is gaining an internship. You may not be completing relevant tasks, but you’ll be able to see firsthand how the business works. This is especially important for those who didn’t study the topic in college. Try not to be afraid of failure during this period. The more you fail, the more you’ll learn.
4. Make connections
Networking can mean the difference between success and failure in public relations. After all, part of the job title is “relations”. You need to know how to make connections with others. Try to create friendships with individuals who work in the field. These people can give you tips and provide job opportunities. Once you land a position, meet people relevant to your company’s field. For instance, if you’re working with a pharmaceutical company, form connections with doctors that can validate products. It’s also wise to contact journalists. Public relations tends to delve into a company’s visage in the media, so having pleasant relationships with the press is key.
5. Practice interviewing
Interviewing will be a large part of the public relations experience, especially when you’re first starting out. It’s therefore hard to make it in the field if you tend to botch these meetings. This is why you should take the time to practice interviewing. You can do so by yourself, but it will likely be more effective with a friend or industry professional. Don’t memorize potential answers, but have a basic idea for what you’ll say regarding frequently asked questions. For example, you should know what points you’ll cover when discussing your previous experience or interest in the potential business. These practice sessions can also be more effective if you don’t know the questions beforehand.
It may seem daunting to pursue a career in such a socially visible field, but this path can be a profitable option. The job delves into multiple fields, so if your interests lie elsewhere it may still interest you. If you’re proficient at communications and unsure what career you’ll pick, public relations could be a helpful one to consider. Keep your mind open and stay persistent during your job hunt.